every family deserves to br safe and have a fun allergy-free halloween
“Remember guys, DO. NOT. EAT. ANYTHING. Until I check it. We have to be sure it’s nut-free.” Just in case, for the tenth time that night I check that I still have 5 epi-pens in my purse, even though I always have 5 epi-pens in my purse. Halloween is the scariest night of the year for me as a mom, and it has nothing to do with goblins, ghouls or ghosts.
Halloween is the best night of the year if you’re a kid. I mean, you go door to door dressed up as your very favorite character and ask for candy. AND THEY GIVE IT TO YOU. Just like that! Nuggets, minis, full-size, and King-size. Candy bars come in every size imaginable. Chewy and crunchy candies come in all the fruit flavors There are the occasional gross candies – yes the nasty black and orange wrappered candies still exist – but it’s ok. You’ll offer those to our dad.
You’re allowed out of the house after dark! You get to run door to door with your friends! You always stop for a snack at the house with donuts and hot cider. It’s a night of yes. Yes to just about everything.
Unless you have a food allergy, then you hear a lot of no. In our family we have both tree nut and peanut allergies. Not stomachache allergies, lethal allergies. Allergies like that can ruin the fun of the funnest night of the year. I mean, what’s the point of asking for and receiving candy if you can’t eat it because it could kill you? What’s the point of filling your Halloween bucket if you have to hand it over at the end of the night?
When we found out about the first nut allergies, we had to figure out something. How do you explain not eating candy to a preschooler? How do you miss out on the cutest night of the year if you’re the parent? I came up with a plan. This plan is also perfect if your child is diabetic. In that case you would decide if any candy is ok for them.
How to Have a Fun Allergy-Free Halloween for kids
- We talk before about not eating the candy until we get home to make sure it’s safe. I’ve always talked to my kids about why we do things. Not all kids are into explanations, but some are. Eventually all kids will hear you.
- We ask at each house if mom and dad can check the nut-free candy options from the bowl. I have never had anyone give us a hard time about this.
- We keep an eagle eye on the kids and their buckets. Some kids can’t resist the temptation, so we offer to carry it for them between houses. I assure you that once they’ve had to get an epi-pen injection, they will never take the chance again. A sad and scary lesson.
- Once we get home we double check everything to make sure it’s nut free. The little candies don’t have ingredients, so look up everything. I nearly gave a Butterfinger to one of my peanut allergy kids. I just didn’t think about it being peanut butter. Fortunately my husband caught it. Fruit-flavored candies are usually safe, but anything chocolate is always suspect.
- We let them pick out their 10 favorite candies, 5 to eat tonight, and 5 to save. They always go for the big candy bars and the Fun Dip. We give them a little of the Halloween joy by letting them binge on 5 candies (think 5 full size candy bars, they aren’t deprived). We keep the other five to send one a day with lunch.
- We buy the rest of the candy off of them. It gets more expensive as they get older. When they were little we gave them 5 moneys (quarters) which was perfect for the dollar store. Now that the oldest are 11, we are up to $10 per kid, but that’s enough to buy a pack of Pokemon, so they are satisfied with it.
- The next day (it has to be the next day), we go to the dollar store or Target and let them spend their Halloween money on a toy. They need immediate gratification. Don’t make them wait for the weekend. That is torture, and they will remember that next year and resist. If the next day is a weekday, we go on the way home from school
- GET THE CANDY OUT OF THE HOUSE. Specifically any nut-containing candy, or whatever your child is allergic to. Don’t hide it. Kids can sniff out candy like a blood hound can sniff out a rabbit. It’s an ambulance ride waiting to happen. Plus, my tree nut allergy child had three anaphylactic reactions in one year from cross contamination. Someone touched nuts and touched her food. One of my kids acts like a heroin addict when she eats candy. Meltdowns, crying, screaming, kicking, punching, stealing, lying, anything to get more. Not one more, the whole basket. And the side effects last for at least a week. It’s torture for all involved. I send the candy to work with my husband, and the whole office enjoys it. Problem solved.
If you want to be extra super careful, look for the houses with the teal pumpkins. They are offering allergy-free candies or little toys. Halloween shouldn’t be the scariest night of the year for parents. It should be fun for everyone, even if candy is dangerous for them.
If you are looking for something easy, delicious, allergy-friendly foods to serve your family or a crowd before hitting the street, check out these recipes: Creamy Ranch Chicken Tacos, Pulled Pork Sliders or Salad, Buffalo Chicken Sliders or Salad, Gluten-Free Chili.
Please share this everywhere you can. Nut allergies are so scary for the kids and the parents. This could help another family have a fun and safe night. Have a happy Halloween!
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